Advertisement

Lesbian-Feminist Aging: June Arnold’s Sister Gin (1975)

  • Linda M. Hess
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the positive representation of lesbian aging in the context of the 1970s lesbian-feminist movement. The author analyzes June Arnold’s Sister Gin (1975) as an exceptional work that disrupts the dichotomous juxtaposition of older predators versus younger victims, prominent in earlier representations. Building on Roberta Maierhofer’s approach of reading menopause as a catalyst for “becoming conscious of one’s own identity,” the chapter discusses Sister Gin’s instrumentalization of menopause as a trigger for rethinking (re-)productivity and decline. Hess subsequently examines Arnold’s use of the “aging lesbian woman” to denote a position of strength through which the narrative challenges stereotypes of older women’s asexuality, female acquiescence to invisibility, and superficial idealizations of feminist sisterhood.

References

  1. Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1987. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute.Google Scholar
  2. Bechdel, Alison. 2006. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  3. Bowleg, Lisa. 2008. When Black + Lesbian + Woman ≠ Black Lesbian Woman: The Methodological Challenges of Qualitative and Quantitative Intersectionality Research. Sex Roles 59 (5–6): 312–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Breen, Margaret Soenser. 1995. Jane Rule. In The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage: A Reader’s Companion to the Writers and Their Works from Antiquity to the Present, ed. Claude J. Summers, 609–610. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  5. Broderick, Damien. 1995. Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, Rita Mae. 1973. Rubyfruit Jungle. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  7. Brownmiller, Susan. 1970. ‘Sisterhood Is Powerful’: A Member of the Women’s Liberation Movement Explains What It’s All About. New York Times Magazine, May 15. https://www.nytimes.com/1970/03/15/archives/sisterhood-is-powerful-a-member-of-the-womens-liberation-movement.html
  8. Copper, Baba. (1985) 1990. The View from Over the Hill: Notes on Ageism Between Lesbians. In Lesbian Philosophies and Cultures, ed. Jeffner Allen, 219–239. New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  9. Daniluk, Judith C. 1998. Women’s Sexuality across the Life Span: Challenging Myths, Creating Meanings. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. de Beauvoir, Simone. (1949) 2010. The Second Sex. Trans. Constance Borde. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  11. ———. (1972) 1996. The Coming of Age. Trans. Patrick O’Brian. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  12. de Lauretis, Teresa. 1990. Feminism and Its Differences. Pacific Coast Philology 25 (1–2): 24–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eaklor, Vicki L. 2008. Queer America: A People’s GLBT History of the United States. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  14. Faderman, Lillian. 1991. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 2015. The Gay Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  16. Featherstone, Mike, and Mike Hepworth. 1995. Images of Positive Aging: A Case Study of Retirement Choice Magazine. In Images of Aging, ed. Mike Featherstone and Mike Hepworth, 29–47. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Ferguson, Ann. 1984. Sex War: The Debate Between Radical and Libertarian Lesbians. Signs 10 (1): 106–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foote, Stephanie. 2005. Deviant Classics: Pulps and the Making of Lesbian Print. Signs 31 (1): 169–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freeman, Elizabeth. 2010. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  21. ———. (1993) 2006. The Fountain of Age. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  22. Gannon, Linda. 1999. Women and Aging: Transcending the Myths. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Goltz, Dustin B. 2010. Queer Temporalities in Gay Male Representation: Tragedy, Normativity, and Futurity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Griffin, Gabriele. 1993. Heavenly Love? Lesbian Images in Twentieth-Century Women’s Writing. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gullette, Margaret. 2004. Aged by Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2011. Agewise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Halberstam, J. Jack. 2011. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harris, Bertha. 1976. Lover. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Herdt, Gilbert, and Brian de Vries. 2004. Gay and Lesbian Aging: Research and Future Directions. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. hooks, bell. 1981. Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism. New York: South End.Google Scholar
  31. Hutton, Elaine. 1998. Beyond Sex and Romance? London: Women’s Press.Google Scholar
  32. Johnson, David K. 2004. The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Katz, Stephen, and Barbara L. Marshall. 2004. Is the ‘Functional’ Normal? Aging, Sexuality, and the Bio-marking of Successful Living. History of the Human Sciences 17 (1): 53–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Klinger, Alisa. 2000. Naiad Press. In Lesbian Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, ed. Bonnie Zimmermann, vol. 531. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  35. Le Guin, Ursula. (1976) 1989. The Space Crone. Dancing at the Edge of the World. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  36. Liming, Sheila. 2007. ‘Reading for It’: Lesbian Readers Constructing Culture and Experience Through Textual Experience. In Queer Popular Culture, ed. Thomas Peele, 85–102. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lorde, Audre. (1984) 2007. Sister Outsider. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  38. Maierhofer, Roberta. 2003. Salty Old Women: Frauen, Altern und Identität in der amerikanischen Literatur. Essen: Blaue Eule.Google Scholar
  39. Marcus, Jane. (1989) 1993. Afterword for Sister Gin, ed. June Arnold, 217–247. New York: Feminist Press.Google Scholar
  40. McCrea, Frances B. 1983. The Politics of Menopause: The ‘Discovery’ of a Deficiency Disease. Social Problems 31 (1): 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller, Isabelle [Alma Rutsong]. 1971. Patience and Sarah. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  42. Pobo, Kenneth. 1995. Journalism and Publishing. In The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage: A Reader’s Companion to the Writers and Their Works from Antiquity to the Present, ed. Claude J. Summers, 414–419. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  43. Radicalesbians. 1970. The Woman-Identified Woman. Women’s Liberation Movement and Print Culture. Digital Collections. Duke University. https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/wlmpc_wlmms01011/#info. Accessed 28 July 2018.
  44. Rich, Adrienne. 1980. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. Signs 5 (4): 631–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rudy, Kathy. 2001. Radical Feminism, Lesbian Separatism, and Queer Theory. Feminist Studies 27 (1): 190–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rule, Jane. 1987. Memory Board. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada.Google Scholar
  47. Sarton, May. (1965) 1993. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. London: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  48. Shilling, Chris. 1993. The Body and Social Theory. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  49. Sione, Patrizia. 2000. Valerie Taylor Papers. Human Sexuality Collection. Rare and Mauscript Collections. Cornell University Library. http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/eguides/manuscripts/7627.html. Accessed 23 July 2014.
  50. Sontag, Susan. 1972. The Double Standard of Aging. The Saturday Review 23 (1972): 29–38.Google Scholar
  51. Taylor, Valerie [Velma Tate]. 1981. Prism. Tallahassee: Naiad.Google Scholar
  52. The Killing of Sister George. 1968. Directed by Robert Aldrich. Palomar Pictures.Google Scholar
  53. Tulle-Winton, Emmanuelle. 2000. Old Bodies. In The Body, Culture, and Society: An Introduction, ed. Philip Hancock, 64–83. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  54. ———. 2008. Aging, the Body, and Social Change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Valocchi, Stephen. 1999. Riding the Crest of a Protest Wave? Collective Action Frames in the Gay Liberation Movement, 1969–1973. Mobilization 4 (1): 59–73.Google Scholar
  56. Wadsworth, Ann. 1995. American Literature: Lesbian: Post Stonewall. In The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage: A Reader’s Companion to the Writers and Their Works from Antiquity to the Present, ed. Claude J. Summers, 47–52. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Hess
    • 1
  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations